Comic-Con: James Frey to Introduce 'Endgame' Universe With Panel, Puzzle, Interactive Game (Exclusive)

Frey's upcoming YA book, which has interactive components and is being developed into a film, will be promoted with a tie-in to the popular augmented reality game Ingress.
"Endgame"; James Frey (inset)

Endgame is James Frey's upcoming book, but to call it only a book would be vastly oversimplifying things.

While the first novel will hit stores Oct. 7, Frey's project is made up of the books (a planned trilogy), e-books, a puzzle, a game, a treasure hunt and an upcoming movie. The first YA book, set in the near present day, follows 12 teens as catastrophic events lead them on a worldwide search for three ancient keys that will save not only their bloodlines but the world.

"Endgame was always conceived of and designed and created to be this pretty vast universe," says Frey. "The idea was that we would build everything before it came out. We'd be proactive in creating the universe instead of reactive."

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Comic-Con will be the first major promotional event to introduce the universe that Frey (author of A Million Little Pieces) has been creating, and it'll be a major push by the combined forces of HarperCollins, Full Fathom Five, Fox and Google’s Niantic Labs.

"We're making a book that's somehow something more than a book," says Frey. "It's an experience — it lives with you everywhere you go because you're always thinking about it, and it takes you out into the world."

A Saturday panel will feature Frey, producer Wyck Godfrey, vp at Google and founder of Niantic Labs John Hanke, and Mat Laibowitz, the founder of Futuruption. Frey will talk about the cross-media universe he's created, and Hanke will discuss the innovative game being built based on the book. Godfrey will speak on the Fox film adaptation.

Frey's first step in building the universe was meeting with Google over about eight months to develop an interactive mobile game. The project will be similar to the popular augmented reality game Ingress, which sends players outdoors to public places of interest for meet-ups to play the game and earn points.

"We intend to model the game in many ways on Ingress, in terms of it being social and involving meeting up in the real world, and having events where hundreds of players gather together to play," says Hanke.

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To introduce Ingress players to the Endgame universe, Google will be using the HarperCollins and Fox booths as portals for a meet-up, and Frey will meet with Ingress players on Saturday. Several hundred Ingress players will be competing around the convention center on Saturday.

Along with a book and poster signing, HarperCollins and Fox have also set up a mini puzzle to be handed out at the HarperCollins booth prior to the panel. The first 10 people to solve the puzzle and bring it to the panel will receive an Endgame prize pack.

The puzzle at the Con is reflective of the larger puzzle that will be launched with the release of the first book, which Frey co-wrote with Nils Johnson-Shelton. Each book in the series will feature an interactive puzzle comprised of clues and riddles that will lead to the location of a hidden key. The first eligible reader to solve the puzzle for the first book and find the key will win $500,000 worth of gold. Frey says the prizes will get bigger with each book.

Frey was inspired to do the puzzle part of the universe by the 1979 children's book Masquerade, written and illustrated by Kit Williams. Williams hid a jeweled golden rabbit in Britain that would be found by whomever could solve the puzzle in the book.

"I was kind of obsessed with it," says Frey. "I've thought about it for years, and always thought about trying doing something like it."

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Fox and Temple Hill’s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen are also developing the film, which they plan to make between the release of the first and second book.

Godfrey, the producer behind popular YA adaptations The Fault in Our Stars and the Twilight films, also plans to shoot some of the extra side-stories that Frey has written as shorts during the shooting of the film.

The story, which follows multiple protagonists and takes the reader all around the world, presents special challenges for a film adaptation. "The cool thing is it's truly a global story," says Godfrey. "But the challenge from a production standpoint is we're globetrotting in the most exotic and interesting places in the world. So it's going to be a massive undertaking."

Information on the Endgame Comic-Con panel is below.

Endgame Panel with James Frey, Wyck Godfrey, John Hanke, Mat Laibowitz and moderator Jessica Yellin
San Diego Convention Center, room 7AB
Saturday, July 26, 2014, from 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

Prior to the panel, a Comic-Con exclusive puzzle will be handed out at the HarperCollins booth. The first 10 people to solve the puzzle and bring it to the panel will receive an exclusive Endgame prize pack.

The Ingress meet-up will date place on Saturday, July 26.

Twitter: @Beccamford